ANAMOSA - Knowing COVID could play a role in how the Anamosa girls basketball team navigated through the 2020-21 campaign, head coach Angie Lawrence, in her first year leading the program, had no idea how challenging the journey would actually be.
“We didn’t even start practice until Nov. 30, because we were virtual with school, so the main goal for the season was that each player stayed healthy and there was improvement individually and as a team,” said Lawrence, who did an outstanding job of keeping the Raiders on track through all of the COVID issues, guiding the program through a 3-12 campaign that included a 3-9 mark against River Valley Conference opponents and 3-4 record against teams in their own North division.
“We tried our best to stay healthy but we quarantined twice as a team and others had to quarantine individually. But, through it all, as a team, we did improve.”
Anamosa increased their offensive numbers tallying 38.5 points per game this past season compared to the 36.6 mark the 2019-20 team had and also improved on the glass averaging 34 rebounds in 2020-21 (28 per game in 2019-20).
“Many players increased their points per game from the year before and every player grabbed more rebounds this year than last,” Lawrence said. “The girls are very resilient and played hard. We rolled through the starts and stops of the season with quarantines and delayed starts of practice with grace and patience. We had fewer practices than other teams in the conference and fewer games, but the girls were still able to improve, and that says a lot about their character.”
The Anamosa girls had a whopping eight games cancelled due to COVID or weather related issues, including five of the last six to close the regular season before having the campaign come to a close with a tough 59-21 loss at Center Point-Urbana in a class 3A regional quarter-final contest Feb. 13.
“I am proud of how the girls handled everything during the course of the season and with all of the starts and stops,” Lawrence said. “To be able to actually improve through all of that says so much about their competitiveness, but also shows their sportsmanship they brought to every game.
“I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to coach this team. They are awesome kids, and they taught me a lot. Our job as coaches is to see the potential in a player and push them outside of their comfort zone so they can build confidence in themselves that they didn’t know they possessed. Every player this year improved in one or more areas of the game.”
The journey couldn’t have been completed without the leadership provided by seniors Maddy Heims, Grace Lubben, Lily Rogers, Addy Rogers, Katravia Burns and Jaiden Neuhaus.
Heims tied for team-best honors scoring 10.1 points per game while also dishing out 2.5 assists handling the point guard duties this winter.
“Maddy brought energy and a spark to the game every night,” Lawrence said. “You could always count on her to get a steal when we needed to change momentum and was the comedian of the team giving us a laugh when we needed it too.”
Lubben, though undersized, never backed down from the challenge of playing the post position for the Raiders.
“Grace has great athletic ability, toughness and brought a competitive spirit to the floor,” Lawrence said. “I challenged her to score more and grab more rebounds this year, and she did it.”
Twin sisters Lily and Addy Rogers also brought intense defensive energy to the team while improving with their offensive efficiency.
“I’m so proud of how Addy gained more confidence in herself offensively,” Lawrence said. “She took more shots this season and handled the ball more than she ever had to, and like her sister, defensively really got after it.
“Lily, like her sister, also became more confident shooting and handling the ball and I always appreciated her attitude of trying new things with ‘we’ll try it and see what happens.’ Both girls also brought the energy every second they were on the floor.”
Burns earned more playing time at the varsity level this season having increased confidence in her own game.
“Katravia has been the definition of what it means to be a teammate,” Lawrence said. “She was always cheering everyone on and building them up. She also improved her points per game. Katravia has a great shot and gained more confidence to shoot in her four years here.”
Neuhaus, who played basketball the three years prior to 2020-21, was a manger for the Raider program this past winter.
“As a player, Jaiden was aggressive and an all-around great teammate,” Lawrence said. “It was awesome to have her as manager this year. She helped out so much with stats and the clock during practices. She folded uniforms and brought a positive energy and cheered on her teammates all year.”
Lawrence returns a talented group next winter led by Joslin Banowetz, Cecilia Venenga, Ava Claussen-Tubbs, Megan Decker and Kala Dietiker, who saw major varsity minutes in 2020-21. Anna Rowley, Nicole Power, Cydney Davis and Lexi Bronemann could also factor into next season’s success as well.
“There is so much potential in every returning player,” Lawrence said. “There is also potential in the freshman class (sophomores next year) and we might see some of those players contributing at the varsity level as well.
“I just want to say thanks to the parents for allowing me to coach their children. I also want to say thanks to assistants Caitlin McVay and Wayne Hora. They were positive, knowledgeable and gave great feedback as season.”